Korea names delegates for inter-Korean talks

North Korea agreed to diplomatic talks with South Korea for the first time in over 2 years

-South Korean military exercises Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, which usually take place in the February-March timeframe, until after the Winter Olympics and the Paralympics, which conclude on March 18.

On Saturday, Trump also praised South Korea for its efforts to open communication with North Korea in an effort to improve relations, including discussion of the participation of North Korean athletes in the Winter Olympics.

Mattis attempted to downplay the matter, saying reporters shouldn't "read too much into" reports of diplomacy in Korea, and insisting that the exercises are only on hold because of logistical concerns.

North Korea has long denounced the military drills as a war rehearsal and used them as an excuse for its provocations.

Today's announcement came after a telephone conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in this morning, U.S. East Coast time.

"Absolutely, I would do that", Mr Trump said.

At the same time, the USA has been holding nearly non-stop drills all year in Korea, so it's hard to imagine why there would suddenly be a logistics issue related to the Paralympics which would be putting things on hold.

North Korea and South Korea remain technically at war more than six decades after open hostilities ceased, with more than 30,000 American troops and the USA nuclear umbrella pledged to Seoul's defense.

"North Korea is going to be Trump's biggest foreign policy challenge in 2018", Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank the Brookings Institute, told Xinhua.

Dr. Go Myong-Hyun, Research Fellow at The ASAN Institute for Policy Studies said Kim's willingness for dialogue is a temporary plan built out of desperation: "North Korea is engaging in a tactical move with South Korea for two main reasons: to avoid a preemptive attack from the U.S., and to mitigate crippling sanctions imposed on the country by the USA".

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at a high point not seen in several years, as Trump wants Pyongyang to halt development of a nuclear weapon that could hit the United States, while the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) believes that having a nuclear weapon is the only way to defend its government from the United States.

Chang Ung, Pyongyang's representative to the International Olympic Committee, reportedly made the comment at Beijing International Airport on Saturday.

North Korea's young leader has shrugged off multiple sets of new UN Security Council sanctions as his regime drives forward with its weapons programmes, which it says are needed to defend against USA aggression.

But the new year has witnessed a marked softening of tone. "I evaluate this change highly", Abe said, adding that the regime must "abandon its nuclear weapons and missiles" program.

"North Korea has shown willingness to cooperate on the Pyeongchang Olympics".

"North Korea sees a moment of opportunity given South Korea's clear interest into wanting to have a positive and peaceful Olympics, and will leverage that moment for tactical gains to ease pressure of sanctions". "Talks for the sake of talks are meaningless".

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